There are 2 kinds of people in the world – those who like to change cars as soon as a newer model comes out and those who drive the same car their whole life. Which one are you? And is such behavior justified – in both cases? What do the old-timers have that brand new models don’t? And vice versa, are all the brand new cars really worth the hassle of getting them before anyone else has them? Or is it just a matter of quality and being set in your ways? Let’s examine!
It’s thought – by some – that older cars are made of sturdier stuff. As the average lifespan of a vehicle in Canada is over 10 years – 11.5, to be exact – if you have a car older than that, then the statement does hold some merit. We aren’t necessarily thinking of the old-timers made 100 or even 50 years ago because if they had been driven regularly and the way we drive cars today, they most certainly wouldn’t have lasted this long. After all, in those times, different tools, materials and techniques were used to build automobiles.
However, a significant push forward in the automotive industry manufacturing occurred in the 1990’s. When high strength boron type steels, composites and aluminum were introduced into commercial vehicle manufacturing, it was necessary to bond and laser weld them along the length of the seam rather than just in particular spots. This new technique ensured that the strongly made parts were also attached more securely to each other. Furthermore, this meant that the safety cage for the passenger area could be made more rigid with less material, with the addition of other structures to absorb energy in the direction of the impact, but remaining strong and rigid against normal driving forces.
Since then, the manufacturing process has only evolved. Hence, if you compare today’s vehicles to the ones made 50 years ago, not only do modern cars have more compact and solid construction when it comes to driving on rough terrains and in possible rollover situations, but can also withstand high speed driving and front-end collisions without body warping, twisting or giving in to other structural problems. For those looking for strength when a vehicle is pushed to its limits in driving performance or collision survival, the vehicles of today are much tougher.
So, why exactly do people still drive cars they bought 20 years ago? Structural quality level aside, these are cars people have bought at the beginning of their driving career and have devoted their lives to taking care of them. A few things come to mind about why they would do that. First, there is the love of cars and a general desire to look after the vehicle you have bought because you just couldn’t behave in any other way. It is simply valuable to you.
Second, this particular make and model has you smitten and you are aware it is very special – a once in a lifetime vehicle, so you want to provide it the best possible protection from the possibly harsh weather conditions, nosy or spiteful neighbors, mischievous pets or children.
Third, you have the know-how and the tireless want to tinker with it and make it the best possible version it could be.
There was this old friend of the family, Frank, who used to work in a Mercedes-Benz factory back in the day. He would work with cars all day long and then he would come home and work on his own car until it was dinnertime. You’d think he was sick and tired of cars – he was in motor oil and whatnot up to his elbows all day long. But, no. Frank was absolutely enjoying the hard work. And he had something extraordinary to show for his efforts – his car was in pristine condition at all times. It was purring, it was comfortable, it was clean and nice-smelling. A complete joy to ride in! Not only that, Frank even built an RV trailer practically from scratch. He took some old trailer and inside made all these little drawers and compartments that would open into a bed or a dining table. It wasn’t just for the sake of making it or because he had unlimited free time on his hands. Frank built all of that for his family! He and his wife and 2 kids would go on road trips over the summer break every year, so wanted the experience to be memorable, hence all the effort he put into it.
Fourth, there is the financial need to take good care of your vehicle because you are aware it was a sizeable investment and it would be foolish to just let it go to waste. Depending on the choice of vehicle and the level of quality you are starting with, regular maintenance and small repair jobs can save you a lot of money in the long run.
1) An experienced mechanic with access to professional equipment will detect and fix various safety issues in the making (faulty brake system, worn tire treads, misaligned wheels, frayed wiper blades, broken headlights, tail lights or blinkers, exhaust build up)
2) The car will give the expected level of performance if it is maintained regularly
3) It costs less to regularly maintain a vehicle than to repair a major malfunction, so heed the warnings on your dashboard to avoid having the car dying on you unexpectedly
4) Your insurance claim could be invalidated if the car hasn’t been regularly maintained because, without regular maintenance, you haven’t provided the necessary conditions or it to work properly
5) Unless you are a licensed mechanic and know your car like the back of your hand, certain things should be left for professionals to deal with.
So, which are the cars that last people drive for 15 or more years?
Obviously, Toyota rules this list with 9 out 15 vehicles on it – taking the top 5 spots and all 9 occupying the top 12 spots. Moreover, Japanese vehicle manufacturers dominate in general, leading to the conclusion that they truly build cars to last. No wonder they have also been featured at the top of the lists for bestselling vehicles in Canada in the past few years.
So, we ask again, which type of people do you belong to? With the next vehicle you buy, are you going to go the new way or the old way?